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European Union: Microsoft Institutes Antitrust Complaint Against Google

(Apr. 11, 2011) On March 31, 2011, the U.S.-based Microsoft Corporation filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission alleging violation of European Union competition rules by Google, on the ground that Google's “pattern of actions” inhibits competition. Google dominates the online search engine and search advertising sectors in Europe by controlling more than 90% of the market, eclipsing Microsoft's Bing. (Microsoft Files EU Competition Complaint Against Google, EURACTIV (Apr. 1, 2011).)

The European Commission, the antitrust regulator for the EU, has already been examining claims of competition infringement made by three other firms against Google. The Commission stated in regard to the Microsoft complaint that it will request Google's opinion of the charges, pursuant to EU antitrust procedures, but declined to make further comments. (Id.) For its part, Microsoft stated that the time was ripe to fight Google on legal grounds because of its entrenched dominance in Internet searches, especially in Europe.

The antitrust complaint focuses on the following claims. Microsoft alleges Google adversely affects competition by:

a) “walling off” content on its YouTube site, which in essence prevents other search engines from showing accurate results;

b) preventing Microsoft's mobile phone software from showing videos from YouTube;

c) blocking access to content owned by book publishers that Google has copied and stored;

d) not allowing websites to use competing “search boxes”; and

e) adopting prohibitive costs for advertising online for potential competitors to Google. (Id.)